Oct 4, 2018, St Albert (AL) Gazette: A better way for a timeout—Sensory rooms put kids in control https://www.stalbertgazette.com/article/a-better-way-for-a-timeout-20181004 When Bertha Kennedy student Annika Pearce is feeling stressed, she knows to go to the Healthy BobKats Room. It’s kind of a cross between a reading room and a really relaxed gym. In one half, kids can hop between stepping-stones, clamber on climbing walls, bounce balls, flip battle ropes, pound a punching post or pedal bikes. In the other, they can sit on comfy cushions beneath shaded lights and curl up with a good book. Annika, who has autism, said she’s learned to ask to go to this room whenever she feels stressed in class. … The BobKats Room is an example of a sensory or therapy room – an emerging mental-health trend in Alberta schools. Sensory rooms are dedicated spaces meant to help youths, often those with autism, learn to regulate their emotions, said Carole Anne Patenaude of Autism Edmonton. … (The province is rewriting its rules for isolation rooms in response to a lawsuit involving a Sherwood Park student with autism who was allegedly locked in one.) The trend now is to teach students how to recognize and regulate their emotions, Keohane said. Instead of the teacher pulling the student out of class, the student, sometimes with the teacher’s help, decides if they need to use a sensory room. While most schools now have sensory rooms, their designs vary greatly, said Rhonda Nixon, assistant superintendent with Greater St. Albert Catholic. … While most often used with youths on the autistic spectrum, a sensory room can help any student having a bad day, Keohane said. Bertha Kennedy opened its sensory room last May and now has all its students spend time in it daily, said learning support facilitator Josie Cancian…. “They’re excited because we have a climbing wall in our school now and they can kick or punch a bag safely.”…
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Children today are noticeably different from previous generations, and the proof is in the news coverage we see every day. This site shows you what’s happening in schools around the world. Children are increasingly disabled and chronically ill, and the education system has to accommodate them. Things we've long associated with autism, like sensory issues, repetitive behaviors, anxiety and lack of social skills, are now problems affecting mainstream students. Blame is predictably placed on bad parenting (otherwise known as trauma from home).
Addressing mental health needs is as important as academics for modern educators. This is an unrecognized disaster. The stories here are about children who can’t learn or behave like children have always been expected to. What childhood has become is a chilling portent for the future of mankind.
Anne Dachel, Media editor, Age of Autism
(John Dachel, Tech. assist.)
What will happen in another 4 years? How can we go on like this? This is a national (and international) problem of monumental proportions. We have an entire new class of children who cannot be accommodated by the system: many are manifestly neurologically impaired. Meanwhile, the government and the medical profession sleep on regardless.
UK media editor, Age of Autism
The generation of American children born after 1990 are arguably the sickest generation in the history of our country.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
It seemed to me that with rising autism prevalence, you’d also see rising autism costs to society, and it turns out, the costs are catastrophic.
They calculated that in 2015 autism cost the United States $268 billion and they projected that if autism continues at its current rate, we’re looking at one trillion dollars a year in autism costs by 2025, so within five years.
Toby Rogers, PhD, Political economist
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